Welcome Eileen Watkins!

It’s Cat Week here on Wicked Authors. Tuesday, Clea Simon, author of the Witch Cats of Cambridge series, visited. And there’s the Wickeds’ own Cate Conte, author of the Cat Cafe Mysteries.

Today we’re pleased to host Eileen Watkins, author of the Cat Groomer Mystery series. The fifth book in the series, Claw & Disorder, has just been released.

Take it away, Eileen!

One of the biggest challenges in writing a cozy mystery series, I think, is finding legitimate ways to get your amateur sleuth involved in solving murders.

First off, these books usually take place in small towns populated by mostly decent people, and in real life how often do murders occur in such places? I skew things in my favor by setting my Cat Groomer Mystery series in a part of northwestern New Jersey picturesque enough to be an attractive “bedroom community” for wealthy executives. But fictional Chadwick also borders on a wild, mountainous area that can harbor wild animals and less affluent people. A varied population gives me a wider range of possible crimes and suspects.

My amateur sleuth’s profession, at first glance, wouldn’t seem to bring her into contact with many murderous types. But Cassie McGlone, who grooms and boards cats and lives over her shop, does meet a constant stream of people through her work. In the first book of the series, The Persian Always Meows Twice, she pays a house call to a wealthy client and finds him murdered in his study. She investigates the death of a mysterious customer who left a valuable cat at her shop in The Bengal Identity, and joins a movement to deal with feral cats at an upscale condo community in Feral Attraction. By my fourth book, Cassie has acquired a van to do mobile grooming; that brings her to a giant “cat expo,” where she offers to help a celebrity whose beloved cat had been stolen (Gone, Kitty, Gone).     

To make her actions believable, I show that Cassie is not only a fervent animal lover but studied psychology in college and reads and watches a lot of mysteries. She’s driven by her concern for her customers—human and feline—but also by an intense curiosity about “whodunit” and a nagging sense that she can help to solve the crime. By the end of the first book, even the town’s crusty female detective praises her skills, and Cassie often wheedles information out of people who would hesitate to talk to a cop.

For two of these books I consulted my cousin Phil, a retired intellectual property lawyer who worked in Silicon Valley, about technological information that was far beyond my realm of expertise. I’ve watched programs about controlling feral cats and have researched particular breeds such as the Bengal, Ayesha. I’ve been to many cat shows as a spectator, and have always lived with at least one cat of my own (but never more than two). As for Chadwick, I’ve always loved strolling through small, older towns, especially those that have rebranded themselves with craft shops, trendy cafés and art galleries to attract weekend tourists.

For 35 years I covered art, architecture, interior design and home improvement for daily newspapers, so many of my plots touch on those topics, too. In my latest, Claw & Disorder, Cassie becomes embroiled in the problems of two very different households. The elderly Tillmans have allowed their ranch house to become crammed with mementos of the past, along with an unhealthy number of cats. Meanwhile, wealthy customer Gillian Foster is restoring her historic colonial home to absolute authenticity, heedless of the toll this takes on her husband and her teenaged daughter. As usual, Cassie starts out helping with their cat issues, but after a death in the first home and a life-threatening incident in the second, she begins to use her sleuthing skills, as well. How could this law-abiding version of Catwoman resist?  

About Eileen

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Besides the Cat Groomer Mysteries, Eileen Watkins, also has published equestrian and paranormal suspense novels. She has always shared her home with at least one cat and regularly visited the nearest riding stable. She belongs to Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Visit her online at www.efwatkins.com and www.facebook.com/EileenWatkinsAuthor.

Readers: Cats and cozy mysteries, a natural combination? What are some of your favorite mystery series featuring cats?

15 Thoughts

  1. My first exposure to the domestic cozy was the Lilian Jackson Braun Cat Who series. I was given a book by a friend when I was recovering from surgery and I read my way through the entire series then published. Since then I confess to being a devotee of Mrs. Murphy. Rita Mae Brown’s intrepid chronicler of feline and canine (with the help of their human) adventures.

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  2. Another vote for The Cat Who… series- I was in high school when I discovered them and they fueled my love of the cozy!

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  3. I also discovered The Cat Who… series many years ago, it was my introduction to cozy mysteries and I still love cats & cozies!

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  4. I must confess to not having a lot of personal experience with books featuring cats, although of course I’m familiar with Rita Mae Brown. Although it seems that a lot of books I read, the main character does have at least one cat.

    The whole “coming up with a believable reason an amateur would get involved” is why I admire successful cozy writers. It’s something I never could get the knack of.

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  5. Congratulations on your new book! I love Jennifer J. Chow’s Sassy Cat series. Like so many others here my first cat/mystery experience was with The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun.

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  6. Big time congrats on your new release, Eileen! I enjoy your Cat Groomer series so much! Since I’m an unapologetic Cat Guy, there are for me too many wonderful stories to pick one series, or one book. Though, The Bengal Identity does stand out, partly because it was a good lesson that while Bengal cats are gorgeous, they are way too energetic for me. LOL 🤣

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  7. Eileen, congratulations on your latest book and I wish you great success with it!

    Since I’m more of a dog person than a cat person (doctors think I was scratched by a cat when I was 10 or so and came 36 hours from dying…and my mom was allergic), you won’t find me having one in the house.

    But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying a cat as a character in a mystery (as long as it is just a cat and not a crime-solving one…only Scooby Doo can solve crimes! LOL)

    Favorite series? Well, you know I love Edith’s Country Store series. It’s my bar none favorite series, cat or not. I also love Vicki Delany’s Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series which features a store cat. Doesn’t Sheila Connolly’s Orchard series feature a cat? I love that series too.

    Those are the three I can think of off the top of my head. I’m sure there are some that I’m forgetting that I’ve read.

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    1. Yep, I did forget one. The Lighthouse Library series by Eva Gates (aka Vicki Delany) is another series I love that has a cat in it.

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  8. I love Diesel from the Cat in the Stacks series.

    As much as I do enjoy Liz’s books, they make me feel like my allergies are going to kick in. I wish I weren’t allergic to dogs and cats.

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  9. Welcome, Eileen! I think I might be the only person who hasn’t read The Cat Who series. I’m a confirmed cat person myself, and I love when a cat prances around through a mystery as long as it doesn’t talk or act like a human.

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  10. Certainly The Cat Who… series, Mrs. Murphy, Agatha from the Death on Demand series, and really anything that has a cat.

    And now, I’ve discovered a new series to add to my TBR pile!

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  11. I love Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson mysteries. Molly Fritz has a wonderful series starring Octo-Cat. Thank you so much for such a wonderful question. God bless you.

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